Comprehensive multipathway risk assessment of chemicals associated with recycled ("crumb") rubber in synthetic turf fields

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Abstract

Background

Thousands of synthetic turf fields in the US are regularly used by millions of individuals (particularly children and adolescents). Although many safety assessments have concluded that there are low or negligible risks related to exposure to chemicals found in the recycled rubber used to make these fields, concerns remain about the safety of this product. Existing studies of recycled rubber's potential health risks have limitations such as small sample sizes and limited evaluation of relevant exposure pathways and scenarios.

Objective

Conduct a comprehensive multipathway human health risk assessment (HHRA) of exposure to chemicals found in recycled rubber.

Methods

All available North American data on the chemical composition of recycled rubber, as well as air sampling data collected on or near synthetic turf fields, were identified via a literature search. Ingestion, dermal contact, and inhalation pathways were evaluated according to US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) guidance, and exposure scenarios for adults, adolescents, and children were considered.

Results

Estimated non-cancer hazards and cancer risks for all the evaluated scenarios were within US EPA guidelines. In addition, cancer risk levels for users of synthetic turf field were comparable to or lower than those associated with natural soil fields.

Conclusions

This HHRA's results add to the growing body of literature that suggests recycled rubber infill in synthetic turf poses negligible risks to human health. This comprehensive assessment provides data that allow stakeholders to make informed decisions about installing and using these fields.

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